Music, drama and sports return to Prince Rupert schools on Sept. 7 when doors reopen to students going back to class. Among fresh health guidelines for the new academic year, students and staff in grade 4 and above will be required to wear non-medical masks in doors, Andrew Samoil, district superintendent for SD 52, said on Sept. 1.
“I’m very excited that there’s a return to in-person learning,” Samoil, told The Northern View. “It’s going to be less restrictive than in the past… it will be more regular and more routine.”
The school health guidelines have changed from last year, and the school district expects them to change again as the situation in the community changes, Samoil said.
Kindergarten to grade 3 students will not be required to wear masks. However, the Ministry of Education guidelines still encourage all students to wear masks.
“Physical distancing, while it’s not mandatory, it’s recommended that we continue to pay attention to space and to have people spread out,” Samoil said.
The lifting of restrictions for visitors will also allow for itinerant teachers, including a literacy helping teacher and a numeracy helping teacher who will be visiting elementary schools throughout the year, to work in schools.
“Under the previous restrictions, it was a little bit harder to do. Now, there’s still that respect for space, but now we can actually go to the schools,” Samoil said.
Samoil said that with new restrictions, parents could enter the school under a transitional rollout if health guidelines stay the same, so families can look forward to watching their children in plays, concerts and sports.
“These things are very important, and they round out a school,” Samoil said. “You can now have drama productions and get together and do music and singing and those things that were a bit restricted under the past rules.”
One of the most exciting changes for the superintendent is visiting students and staff in person without the feeling of intruding into a space, something he felt throughout the pandemic while visiting schools under stricter restrictions.
He said it’s going to be nice to meet in person instead of online conferences over Zoom where staff can have a “more fulsome discussion.”
Daily cleaning and disinfecting protocols in schools will continue alongside required daily health checks, hand hygiene and increased ventilation, School District 52 stated in an Aug. 31 media release. Learning cohorts and physical distancing are no longer recommended by pubic health officials, but schools will continue several strategies to create space between students and staff, SD 52 stated.
Elementary school students in grades 1 through five begin classes at 10 a.m. on Sept. 7 and finish early at 12 p.m., with regular classes beginning Sept. 8.
Starting times for Pacific Coast School, Charles Hays Secondary and Prince Rupert Middle School are posted on their respective school websites and may vary from school to school.
Norman Galimski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View